Why Women Need to Stop Being Polite to Predators and Creeps

Gender

Why Women Need to Stop Being Polite to Predators and Creeps

Illustration: Akshita Monga

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couple of days ago, a stranger stopped me on the street to pay me a compliment. In the course of a two-minute one-sided conversation, he suddenly hugged me. I didn’t say a word, forget hitting back or screaming. I simply froze. When he began pestering me for my number soon after, I sheepishly jumped onto a running bus. As I took my seat, I couldn’t reconcile with the fact that someone could so casually devalue consent. But what hurt me far more was my inability to respond – to give that man a piece of my mind, to ask him to leave me alone. Would I rather risk being run over by a speeding bus, than be rude to a potential predator?

This isn’t the first time I haven’t hit back at a harasser. My politeness with men who hardly deserve any, has only added to the complexity of what I think constitutes as harassment. If anything, I owe myself an apology for many many years, just like a lot of women who blame themselves because they “did nothing concrete about it”. In that moment, the creep becomes a much smaller issue than our refuge in politeness. My friends and I have taken turns to wonder about this conundrum on countless nights: Why are women nice to creeps?

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